From: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
By: Miral Atik, Pictures: Nicolawos Hazboun/ lpj.org
BEIT JALA – On Friday evening, May 26th, 2023, at the Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala, took place the silver jubilee celebrations of Fr. Iyad Twal, Fr. Bassam Al Deir, Fr. George Da’boub and Fr. Adnan Bader.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over a Mass at the church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala to celebrate the 25 years of priesthood of Fr. Iyad Twal, Executive Vice President of Bethlehem University, Fr. Bassam Al Deir, parish priest of Shatana, Fr. George Da’boub, in charge of the spiritual service at the Artas convent, and Fr. Adnan Bader, parish priest of Jabal El-Webdeh, who was unfortunately unable to attend the celebration. Three of them were ordained to the priesthood by Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, who concelebrated the Mass with Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar, and Mgr Gicancito- Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus, as well as a number of priests from the Latin Patriarchate who came to celebrate the four priests from across the diocese.
The church was filled with faithful, including parishioners, sisters and some family members of the four priests, who came to witness the renewal of their yes and thank God for their call. This celebration, organized at the initiative of the Beit Jala seminary, is intended not only to celebrate the jubilee of priests who have graduated from the seminary and are serving in the parishes of the diocese, but also to encourage others to respond to God’s call to the priesthood.
In his homily, Mgr Pizzaballa first reflected on the Gospel reading, which was about the famous encounter between Jesus and Peter that occurred after the resurrection: “Three times Peter betrayed Christ, and in response to that, Christ asked him three times ‘Do you love Me?’,” he said. “This goes to show that Jesus does not care about one’s fallings and shortcomings, but cares about one’s ability to continue to love Him amidst the trials of life, thus proving this love to be true. Because in our weaknesses and betrayals, this love matures and blossoms due to the mercy and forgiveness He continues to grant us”. He went on to address a word to the priests celebrating their silver jubilee, as well as to all the priests and faithful. “We are called to be authentic lovers of Jesus, to be faithful to His love…. this is the first and most important thing we are called to do. Then comes strategic planning to fulfill our pastoral duties to the Church.” Finally, he reminded them that, twenty-five years ago, they vowed to live this love, and that today, with all the faithful present, they are saying yes again to the proclamation of this love, which has only matured throughout their journey with Christ.
The beautiful hymns sung by members of the Bethlehem choir and some of the seminarians added to the emotion of the ceremony, which ended with a word of gratitude from Fr. Iyad Twal on behalf of the four priests. “My longing for love, my search for truth and all the questions relating to the suffering of humanity have only been answered through my admission to the sacred institute of the priesthood”.